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MEGA DATA HANGS IN THE BALANCE
As previously reported, when the US authorities shut down the MegaUpload enterprise in January as they swooped on the controversial file-transfer company and its executives, as well as blocking consumer access to large amounts of unlicensed content, they also stopped those using Mega's file-storage service for legitimate purposes from accessing their own files.
The Mega servers, which were primarily leased from a company called Carpathia Hosting, remain offline, though the data that was stored on them has not, as yet, been wiped. But Mega can no longer pay for the cost of keeping the servers in place, it having had its assets seized by the US authorities, and Carpathia says not being able to reuse those servers for other clients, while having to store the hardware in a cooled environment, is creating a considerable financial burden.
Prosecutors say that they have all the evidence they need from the former Mega servers, and that Carpathia could, therefore, now wipe them. But the server firm fears that it could be sued by third parties who lose data if it does delete all the former Mega content. Meanwhile both the Mega team's lawyers and the Motion Picture Association Of America have asked for access to the data, the former to aid the Mega executives' defence, the latter to help in civil proceedings being planned against the defunct digital company.
Mega's lawyers proposed they handle the return of legitimate data to their client's former customers, while also getting the evidence they need to aid in the firm's defence, and to that end attorneys agreed a deal to buy the servers from Carpathia. But the MPAA objected to any deal that would give Mega access to its old files, while the US authorities refused to free up any of the digital firm's seized funds to enable such a deal.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing some of the customers who lost data as a result of the Mega shutdown, has said the US government should take responsibility for the return of legitimate data, and fund any work required to separate unlicensed from user-owned content, and to put the Mega servers back online for a short time period.
But prosecutors are having none of it. As also previously reported, in a submission to court earlier this month, the US Attorney for the Eastern District Of Virginia, Neil MacBride, said his office was happy for Carpathia to delete all the Mega data if the server company couldn't afford to maintain it, adding that - while he sympathised with former Mega customers - the file-transfer service's terms and conditions warned them to keep local back ups of files.
And when all concerned parties met in court on Friday, reps for the US government maintained that line, while also arguing that Carpathia is not the innocent third party in all this that bosses at the server firm have claimed.
Arguing that, if anyone should pay for the return of legitimate data to former Mega customers it should be the server company, the government's rep at the hearing said Carpathia had made $35 million from MegaUpload over the years, and had received thousands of legal notices about the unlicensed content it was hosting for the Mega enterprise, so couldn't now claim to have been caught "off guard" by the authorities' swoop on its former client's operations
Having heard arguments from all sides, Judge Liam O'Grady - who expressed some sympathies with regard to Carpathia's situation - called on all sides to meet over the next fortnight and to try to reach an agreement on what to do with the Mega data. He said that, unless any one stakeholder objected, he'd appoint a magistrate judge to help with the negotiations, adding: "Let's get together and see if you can't work it out". He confirmed that if necessary he'd wade in at the end of the month and rule on what should happen, but said he'd prefer a voluntary agreement be reached.
PROSECUTION OBJECT TO MEGA'S CHOICE OF LAWYER
He's an obvious choice in some ways, having worked for YouTube when it was accused of copyright infringement by MTV owners Viacom. In that case, which YouTube ultimately won, the Google-owned video site defended itself under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, arguing that while it does and always has routinely hosted unlicensed content on its servers, it is users that upload that content, and it removes it once made aware of its presence, thus benefiting from the DMCA safe harbours.
MegaUpload will try to avoid liability for the copyright infringement it enabled using the same arguments. But, interestingly, in the Mega case, the prosecution plan to call YouTube as witnesses as one of the victims of the Mega empire, to discuss allegations Mega routinely scraped the Google-owned site for new content and posted it on its own video-sharing platform, included user-generated content, so that it could claim MegaVideo was primarily a user-uploaded-content site. Prosecutors will also ask Google about why it stopped Mega from carrying its ads system.
Prosecutors reckon that Schapiro having worked for YouTube, not to mention other Hollywood studios that the prosecution intend to call as witnesses, amounts to a conflict of interest. Though Schapiro was having none of it last week, with his firm telling reporters in a statement: "If the government is to have its way in this case, the only lawyers before the court will be those representing the government. If the government is to have its way, the only evidence available to the court would be that cherry-picked by the government, for the government, from the universe of relevant servers slated to be wiped. If the government is to have its way, in sum, MegaUpload will never get its day in court and the case will effectively be over before it has even begun".
It's not the first conflict of interest claim to be made against a lawyer representing the Mega team, of course. Shortly after the US authorities swooped, Mega's reps announced the company had hired the services of another big name lawyer, Robert Bennett, though he quickly had to withdraw from the case because of a conflict of interest with another client represented by the law firm he is affiliated to.
Talking of Schapiro's legal work for YouTube, that case - ie Viacom v YouTube - was reignited in a way earlier this month, when appeal court judges called for new consideration to be given to one specific aspect of Viacom's allegations: that early YouTube execs deliberately turned a blind eye to (and, in one case, actually personally engaged in) the upload of unlicensed content to the platform in its early days, because that content was driving most of the service's traffic.
Those allegations only relate to the early days of YouTube's operations (as, indeed, did much of Viacom's eventual lawsuit), and wouldn't affect the way the Google video site runs today, where a very sophisticated takedown system is in operation. However, if YouTube was found liable for some copyright infringement by operating a deliberately shoddy takedown system in its earlier days, that could have an impact for other user-upload platforms still accused of doing the same thing - including MegaUpload and, for that matter, Grooveshark.
It will be interesting to see if the appeal judges' ruling means the Viacom v YouTube case will return to court, allowing more discussion about the obligations of digital firm's relying on DMCA safe harbour protection, or if the two companies - who are engaged in some business partnerships while also fighting this one out in court - reach some sort of settlement without trial.
PRINCE ORDERED TO PAY $4 MILLION IN DAMAGES TO PERFUME COMPANY
As previously reported, Prince was sued in 2008 by Revelations Perfume And Cosmetics Inc, which claimed that the singer failed to fulfil promotional commitments he had made to help the company flog its smelly stuff, which was named after his 2006 album '3121'. Revelations claimed that Prince had agreed to promote the product, and also to sell it at his live shows, but that neither of those things happened, making the venture an expensive flop.
A New York court hearing first sided with the perfume maker last September, but the whole matter was still to go before another judge. Meanwhile Prince's legal reps said there was no evidence that Revelations' decision to make the '3121' perfume was directly motivated by the singer's promises to undertake promotional duties. But said judge ignored those pleas last week and ordered Prince to pay the perfume company $3.95 million in damages (though declined the claimant's request for punitive damages too).
Team Prince were no impressed with the ruling, and pledged to keep fighting, with the singer's legal reps telling The Hollywood Reporter: "This was a default judgment, not based on any trial on the merits and without any ability of Prince to challenge the factual assertions of the plaintiff. The judge's refusal to set aside the default for good cause is currently being appealed. Every 'fact' in the judge's opinion was an adoption of the assertions made by the plaintiff due to said default judgment and are vehemently denied by Prince".
FORMER COHEN MANGER FOUND GUILTY OF HARASSMENT
As previously reported, the singer was among those to testify against Kelley Lynch, who once managed Cohen's affairs, but who was fired in 2004 amidst allegations she had stolen millions of dollars from his accounts. Cohen was left facing bankruptcy once he discovered the state of his finances, and began performing again to pay off his debts. He won a civil action against Lynch with regard to her handling of his financial affairs, though has reportedly received little of the damages the courts awarded him.
No criminal proceedings were ever pursued regards the theft allegations in 2004, but last year Cohen did make a complaint to police over the emails and voicemails Lynch continued to bombard him with seven years after they stopped working together. Cohen said that the frequent messages, aside from being a nuisance, were at times threatening, and attempts to stop the barrage of abuse with earlier restraining orders had failed.
Defence lawyers for Lynch argued that the prosecution had exaggerated the size of the messages she sent Cohen, that some of the more threatening messages pre-dated one of the restraining orders, and that while maybe a nuisance, Lynch's actions shouldn't constitute a criminal offence. They also noted that Cohen, during the trial, admitted that he had had a brief romantic relationship with Lynch, something he had not previously admitted to, meaning their past relationship was personal as well as professional. Cohen argued that romantic relationship was short lived and not really relevant.
Lynch was found guilty of two counts of leaving or sending harassing or obscene messages and five counts of violating a restraining order. All charges are misdemeanours, though the former manager could face jail time as a result of her conviction.
ROBIN GIBB IN COMA
Gibb, of course, has been fighting liver cancer. His treatment seemed to be going well, and the Bee Gee remained very positive throughout, though some of his friends have remained concerned about the singer's health, despite Gibb insisting media reports that he was "at death's door" were greatly exaggerated.
A statement at www.robingibb.com said this weekend: "Sadly the reports are true that Robin has contracted pneumonia and is in a coma. We are all hoping and praying that he will pull through".
Meanwhile, an unnamed friend of the family told The Sun: "He has kept so positive and always believed he could beat this. Sadly, it looks like he has developed pneumonia, which is very bad in his situation".
It's thought Gibb's wife and children are now keeping a bedside vigil as the singer fights for his life.
GOOD NIGHT AT HALL OF FAME DESPITE THREE HIGH PROFILE NO SHOWS
The rap trio had hoped to perform at the Hall Of Fame bash, but issued a statement confirming Yauch would not be able to attend shortly before the show. The statement said, simply: "Beastie Boys regret that Adam 'MCA' Yauch will be unable to join Mike 'Mike D' Diamond and Adam 'Adrock' Horovitz at the band's induction into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame. Mike, Adam and Adam are truly grateful for the honour but with only two of the three Beastie Boys attending, they will unfortunately not be able to perform at the ceremony".
At the event, Diamond and Horovitz, joined by longtime DJ Mixmaster Mike, read out a statement from their absent bandmate which thanked the Beastie Boys fanbase, noting "this induction is as much yours as it us ours".
Also not in attendance was Rod Stewart, whose old band The Faces were also being inducted. He had planned to perform with his former bandmates at the induction but had to pull out due to illness. Simply Red's Mick Hucknall who, as previously reported, has been performing with a reformed Faces in the last couple of years, flew in to take Stewart's place.
Rose, of course, announced last week that he would not attend the Hall Of Fame bash, nor did he want to be inducted in his absence, seemingly unhappy that the awards show's bosses expected him to appear on stage with other members of his band's original line-up. In the end three fifths of that original line-up (Duff McKagan, Slash and Steven Adler - Izzy Stradlin was also a no show, though he issued a thank you via McKagan's blog) joined 'Use Your Illusion' drummer Matt Sorum to accept the Hall Of Fame honour, even if the band's eternal frontman didn't want any part of it.
While some have criticised Rose for knocking back the Hall Of Fame induction, he did have one supporter this weekend in the form of Kiss drummer Eric Singer, who told Powerline.com: "I don't know Axl that well, but he should do what he wants. I don't always agree with the choices he makes or how he goes about it... [but] I think it's pretty cool that he's not only thumbing his nose at [the Hall Of Fame bosses], but that he's giving them the middle finger. I think it's cool. It's like: 'Who the fuck are you guys to dictate what should and what shouldn't be?' He kind of has a voice for a lot of people who think the whole thing is kind of a joke".
LOVE PERFORMS WITH FORMER HOLE MATES
Love's former bandmates Melissa Auf der Maur and Eric Erlandson were playing with one time Hole drummer Patty Schemel at a party to launch a new documentary film about the career and life of the latter. Seemingly at one point Auf Der Maur told the crowd: "Is there a lady in the house who wants to join us for a song? We're waiting because apparently there's a Miss World in the house".
Love then emerged, and played 1994 Hole track 'Miss World', and then a cover of Wipers track 'Over The Edge', telling the crowd: "I know, it's a nice moment".
There has been some acrimony between Love and her various former Hole bandmates over the years, of course, and she came under some criticism for reforming the band with a totally new line-up - bar herself - in 2010. But there seemed to be some happiness on stage on Friday, which is nice. Actually, this is probably how classic line-up reunions should happen - two impromptu songs at an intimate party. Let's hope the acrimonies weren't properly overcome later that night, we wouldn't want a full on 90s Hole reunion, would we?
Though Love did seem to be in a reconciliatory mood last week. After accusing Dave Grohl of making the moves on her daughter Frances Bean, something both Grohl and Love Junior strongly denied on Twitter, the Hole lady sent out a new tweet saying: "Bean, sorry I believed the gossip. Mommy loves you".
SEX PISTOLS TO RE-RELEASE GOD SAVE THE QUEEN FOR JUBILEE
The re-release will come exactly 35 years after the original release of the song caused controversy amidst Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee celebrations. One assumes it will cause less controversy this time round. I wonder if Gary Barlow's considered inviting John Lydon to do a live rendition at his Buck House concert?
The single re-release will precede the launch of a 35th anniversary edition of the 'Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols' album in September. There'll also be a limited edition picture disc release of single 'Anarchy In The UK' for Record Store Day on Saturday.
FIGHTSTAR POST TRAILER FOR FILM PROJECT
The movie, which stars bandmate Charlie Simpson, was made for a tiny £1200, seemingly relying on the band's own musical and CGI skills to keep costs so low. Though it's possible the homemade film is really a public pitch to get bigger funding for their movie ambitions.
You can decide whether you'd invest your own money (in a cinema ticket or multi-million pound film budget) by watching the trailer here. We have no comment to make.
NKOTBSB O2 SHOW TO BE STREAMED INTO CINEMAS ACROSS EUROPE
The gig is organised, the cameras are in place, the bandwidth booked, all that's needed now is some fans to buy tickets. And I'm sure there's loads of them, no?
FESTIVAL LINE-UP UPDATE
DOWNLOAD, Donington Park, 8-10 Jun: Download is to dedicate its main stage to the memory of amp innovator Jim Marshall, and marks the news with a list brand new conscriptions to its line-up. Conseqently, Ghost, Saint Jude, Shadows Fall and My Passion now share roster space with the previously announced The Prodigy, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Metallica, Soundgarden and Chase & Status. www.downloadfestival.co.uk
GARDEN FESTIVAL, Petrica Glava, Tisno, Croatia, 4-11 Jul: A further raft of musical guests and boat party hosts have been confirmed for this Croatian fest, including Jose Padilla and Sir Norman Jay, who accompany Nicolas Jaar, Kenny Dope, Tiger And Woods, Crazy P, Applebim and Tim Sweeney on the bill. www.thegardenfestival.eu
HOP FARM MUSIC FESTIVAL, Hop Farm Country Park, Paddock Wood, Kent, 29 Jun - 1 Jul: Bruce Forsyth, as flanked by a big band entourage, is one of the names to newly feature on the Hop Farm programme this year, others being Primal Scream, Patti Smith, Maximo Park, Damien Rice, Lianne La Havas, Tom Vek and My Morning Jacket. Provided they play their cards right, Brucey et al will join existing bookings including Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Suede and The Stranglers. www.hopfarmfestival.com
LOUNGE ON THE FARM, Merton Farm, Canterbury, 6-8 Jul: Old hands Dexys sit beside comparitive young guns Ghostpoet, Summer Camp, Slow Club, Kitty Daisy & Lewis and Theme Park amid a convoy of fresh features of the LOTF bill, as co-stars Emeli Sande, The Wombats, The Charlatans, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Mystery Jets, Roots Manuva, AlunaGeorge, Disclosure and Niki & The Dove. www.loungeonthefarm.co.uk
STRAWBERRY FIELDS, Cattow Farm, Heather, Leicestershire, 10-12 Aug: The Charlatans will narrate their classic album 'Tellin Stories' as new additions to Strawberry Fields, with acts including Hadouken!, Young Knives, Friction and The Draytons also set to perform at the Leicester fest's third annual edition. www.strawberryfieldsfestival.co.uk
BEGGARS MAN EXPANDS ON HIS OPPOSITION TO UNIVERSAL'S EMI DEAL
He told the paper: "We fear Universal's acquisition of EMI. The mere fact that it controls 50% of the artists that media and retail want already gives them leverage other companies don't have. [Adding EMI's artists] obviously gives Universal more access, but it also gives other people less. When one party has the ability to be so dominant, it's going to be difficult for anything outside the mainstream to come through".
He continued: "It [puts pressure] on the space on shop shelves and magazine front covers for less mainstream artists. Promotion is really the oxygen of sales and if other artists on other labels can't get exposure, then they will suffer by comparison".
Mills added that while an uber-powerful Universal might be good news for pop acts, who might be picked up by the record company and benefit from all its promotional power, for real game changing artists, who, the Beggars man argues, traditionally emerge from the indie sector, an overly powerful mega-major will be bad news.
"Look at people from Elvis Presley to Prodigy to Oasis. All of those came from tiny labels", he said. "They all came up with something amazing, and the market was open enough to allow them to bloom and flourish. That's the opposite to the intention of this deal".
As previously reported, the EC has begun a full three month investigation into Universal's EMI bid, and is expected to announce its conclusions in August.
SPOTIFY NOT CONSIDERING IPO
While the costs of global expansion are significant for a service like Spotify, which is paying over large royalty cheques to the big rights owners, and experts expect the company to lose $60 million this year, Ek told the Swedish paper he was upbeat about his firm's position.
Growth remains the main objective, Ek said, presumably by launching in new countries, and pushing partnerships such as the Facebook alliance and the embeddable playlist widget launched last week and already taken up by various established media.
Although loss making overall, Ek says he doesn't need any more cash to execute his current business plan, subscription revenues and ad monies helping meet operational costs. That said, he didn't rule out seeking additional funding in the future - especially if the right kind of investor came along - but insisted going the IPO route, and floating on a stock exchange somewhere in the world, is not currently being considered, despite a number of other tech firms pursuing that option of late.
7DIGITAL LAUNCHES WINDOWS PHONE APP
It means Windows phone users will be able to access 7Digital's MP3 store, and sync any tracks previously bought from it. The move into the Windows phone space is part of 7Digital's bid to be truly platform agnostic, already offering mobile apps for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.
YOUTUBE STILL IMPORTANT TO VEVO, SAYS SVP
While VEVO licenses its own content and sells its own ads, since its launch key partner YouTube has provided traffic as well as technology, with users looking for official artist content from VEVO-affiliated labels being pushed towards VEVO pages when navigating the Google service.
While VEVO.com has started to become a destination in its own right in the last year or so, the digital firm is known to be keen to further push up its non-YouTube-originated traffic, and is thought to be talking to Facebook about some sort of alliance.
That has led some to wonder if VEVO might dump YouTube once its current deal with the video site ends, instead finding a new technology partner and relying on Facebook for extra traffic. Though YouTube is such a big destination for those seeking music videos, such a move would not be without risks. Ideally VEVO would be better having both YouTube and Facebook as partners, though with relationships between Google and the social networking giant souring, that may or may not work.
Anyway, talking ahead of VEVO's Australian launch, Jones confirmed that while his company was working hard to generate more traffic to its own home page, that didn't mean YouTube wasn't still key to its operations. Jones told ZDNet: "YouTube is a vitally important partner for us to get coverage. We're in over 240 countries with YouTube, but the plan has always been to light up VEVO.com. It's a different experience to VEVO on YouTube. We're not saying to users 'don't go to YouTube', but obviously we want to create a Vevo.com environment that we think is compelling. The issue for us is creating the best environment people want to go to".
ONE DIRECTION ATTEMPT TO RUN AWAY FROM THE WANTED
One Direction, so the story goes, were rehearsing for their appearance on 'Saturday Night Live' at CentreStaging in Burbank, California when their security were alerted to the fact that The Wanted were due to arrive in the same studio complex to rehearse for their performance on 'American Idol'.
This was at the point when the total non-feud between the two groups was raging in the British tabloids and it had seemingly put the wind up 1D. Well, all except Liam. TMZ notes that he was the only member of the group who wasn't scared in the slightest. Whether this is because he has an acute understanding of how the tabloid press works or because he's hard as nails isn't clear. I suspect it's neither.
Anyway, the One Direction boys, afraid for their lives, decided to end their session early and run away, but The Wanted arrived while this was all still going on. One Direction's security team, in an attempt to keep things under control, went and spoke to The Wanted's security guys and told them about 1D's concerns. The Wanted's security team then passed this information on to The Wanted themselves, who apparently found it very funny.
Max from The Wanted found it so funny that he immediately went over to One Direction's studio in order to laugh right into their faces. Not Liam's face though, apparently he hugged Liam. Because you don't mess with Liam. For some reason.